HC Deb 22 October 2003 vol 411 c640W
Mr. Gerrard

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when, and for what areas, he has signed authorisations for the use by the police of section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. [131584]

Ms Blears

The use of the section 44 Stop & Search power is authorised by a senior police officer of at least the rank of Assistant Chief Constable. The role of the Secretary of State is to confirm those authorisations.

Between 19 February 2001 and 30 September 2003 a total of 653 authorisations by a senior police officer under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 received confirmation from the Secretary of State. 583 of these relate to English police forces, and 70 to Welsh police forces.

It has been a longstanding policy of this and previous administrations not to comment on anti-terrorist operations. To provide a more detailed breakdown of the areas and times covered by Section 44 authorisations would put into the public domain, information that could prove valuable to terrorists.

Many forces run short term, localised operations for a variety of situations, that are supported by section 44 powers. These can include protective security operations for events or VIPs, intelligence gathering operations or measures taken in response to intelligence and threat assessments. To disclose detailed information on the times and locations of such operations could compromise their future effectiveness.